It’s been a truly humbling experience testing the MantisX. I just returned from finally getting some live fire time in with the unit, and it really put my ego in check. Due to complications on my last two range trips, my phone shutting off from the cold and forgetting to bring the system entirely, this was my only time using the MantisX with live ammunition. It was a true reality check to go from scoring consistently in the 90’s dry to barely bringing out a 74% average with live ammunition. I’d like to blame that low score on the 30-degree weather or the 20mph wind, but the truth is I don’t get enough live fire in. The system had no issue letting me know just how stale my practice with live fire had gotten.
I first came across the MantisX training system at the Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, PA this past February. I saw what a cool dry fire trainer and stopped to talk at their booth. I didn’t realize it, but Joshua Shaw had already done a thorough review of the system after SHOT 2017. Casey, the representative that explained the system to my brother & father-in-law, recognized the Spotter Up logo on my sweatshirt and remarked that they had some new updates. He offered to send a demo unit out so I could experiment with the updates myself. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I love getting to try out new equipment so that was a definite yes.
The box arrived a few weeks later and I don’t think I’ve been more excited to dry fire. It arrived in a hard rubber case, different from the Pelican case Shaw reviewed and I preferred this change. The case is small enough to fit in a jacket pocket, cup holder, or can even be crammed into some magazine pouches with a bit of elbow grease. The system comes with a standard flat head screw, or you can swap it out for the much easier thumb screw. I spent a week misplacing a screwdriver before I realized the other screw was in the package. It’s a small convenience but much appreciated when swapping between weapons.
As stated before, Joshua Shaw already did a great review and step-by-step video of the system. This article will refrain from getting down to the basics and focus on the updates and my impressions of the system. If you would like to see Josh’s articles click HERE to read more.
There were two distinct updates made to the system, and I utilized both. The first update is a Groups feature, which allows you to enter your account into various groups to see where you stand with other MantisX users. I joined two groups, Glock and the Smith & Wesson, as my Glock 17 and M&P15 were the primary weapons I used throughout the testing. There is also a follow feature that allows you to follow individuals instead of an entire group. This is great for following friends or even qualified shooters whose reputation precedes them.
I really enjoyed this feature, seeing how I compared to other shooters, and having a progress bar to give that extra push to practice more was great for my dry fire practice. Anything that inspires people to practice more is a plus, and the bit of competition it allows between friends is a great bonus. I created a Spotter Up group, so if you purchase the system feel free to join this open group and see how you compare with other members.
The second update is a troubleshooter built into the program. If you’re experiencing issues while using the system you can click the icon and it will provide a list of suggestions. It will also flash on screen if you have a few undetected shots. It’ll run you through a list of suggestions such as resetting the system, ensuring it has a full charge, etc.
I encountered the troubleshooter while presenting from the holster in the Compressed Surprise Break drill. After a few repeated attempts, and following the suggestions of the troubleshooter, I allowed the system time to reach a full charge. I e-mailed Casey when the issue continued, his guess was that I was firing while the gun was still in motion. Following his advice, I gave half a second pause to ensure the gun was motionless before pressing the trigger. This worked, and Casey assured me that their engineers are working to update the system so that shots can be detected while the firearm is in motion.
Some suggestions I’d like to make while using the system. First, don’t look at your score after every shot. This creates a bad habit that I didn’t realize I was building until after a few dozen shots. Shoot your chosen string of fire, then go back and check the numbers. Also, try out the drills, they’re incredibly useful. It’s great fun to sit in open fire and try to achieve the highest score or average you can, but don’t neglect the drills available. Many are timed, but the beauty is that the goal is for a fast time AND a quality trigger press. Having both speed and trigger press measured keeps your practice much more honest. Drawing from the holster does work with light compatible holsters, albeit very loosely. This makes it great for practice or use on a flat range, but I would not suggest any sort of movement with it rattling around.
I think my favorite part of using the system is the competitive nature it brings out in people. I have averaged more dry fire these past few weeks, had friends and relatives intrigued enough by the system to try firearms for the first time, and have even been bested by my wife on more than one occasion. This is all due to the instant feedback the system provides and the ability to compare scores. The MantisX makes dry fire fun, and manages to be the pickiest live fire partner that you can never seem to please.
One last note I’d like to make. I know that the popularity of pocket-sized 9mm’s and subcompact carry guns has grown in the last several years. I thought that these guns wouldn’t be compatible with the Mantis as there is no rail to attach the system too. MantisX solved this issue by developing rail adapters for a large variety of handgun magazines, thus enabling those without rails to still use the system.
While I enjoyed the system immensely I do have a few suggestions to expand the systems use. While it can be used with both rifle and pistol, some of the drills are usable only with a pistol. There is no weak side drill, only a weak hand only drill. Also in the Groups feature, while you can examine each members’ individual sessions, it does not display what firearm was used for the drill. The system is still relatively young, I am certain that with time more features will be developed to make the experience even more beneficial.
Cost: 5/5 The system comes in at just under $150, and the cheapest place to buy is still their website. There are many dry fire systems with comparable prices that offer far less.
Durability: 5/5 I was impressed with how well the MantisX held up. It’s been dropped more than once, and even survived the pressure from my muzzle brake while inside a shooting box.
Functionality: 4/5 It still can’t detect shots during movement, but as stated that is being worked on as this is written. I did have one shooter that managed to get false positive shots to register, but I was unable to mimic the situation. It seemed to be a combination of poor trigger discipline while charging the slide, with proper trigger discipline there were no issues.
Weight: 5/5 I normally shoot with a Surefire x300U, the MantisX is significantly lighter. I doubt anyone will notice much difference on a handgun, and I’d seriously question anyone that said they noticed a weight difference on a rifle.
Overall Rating: 24/25 It is hard to find fault with a system that has so much depth to it. As they develop the system further I am certain they will expand the drills available and correct the movement issue.
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I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer via Spotter Up so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.
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